When did he live?
Cnut was born in either 985 or 995. Nobody is sure where, but it is presumed in Denmark.
He died on November 12th, 1035
Why is he famous?
Cnut was a Danish king who conquered much of England, leading to him sharing the English throne, and then being named king of England in 1016 (he ruled until his death in 1035)
He was also the king of Norway and parts of Sweden. He therefore created a union between the British Isles and Scandinavia.
What is his place in history?
Unfortunately for his place in history, Cnut’s death was quickly followed by the death of his children (all died within ten years of their father), leaving England open to William the Conqueror to invade from France in 1066. England’s union with Scandinavia was thus broken, and England became closer to France (as did the English language).
‘Cnut and the Waves’ is a famous legend. The story goes that, having been told his word was so powerful that he could stop the tide, Cnut took his throne to the beach and tried to do this. He failed (although some suggest Cnut was actually trying to humbly prove he was not powerful).
History suggests that Cnut was generous to those who supported him, and strict on those who did not. Tax breaks were a keen tool in his reign.
Whilst England became closer to France, Denmark, Norway and Sweden continued their Scandinavian relationship. Denmark is still considered part of Scandinavia today.
Cnut is currently buried in Winchester Cathedral.